20 Oct 2015
Scottish Huntington’s Association Business Breakfast
Many years ago I pledged to help raise awareness of Huntington's disease. I am always humbled when I hear stories of people of all ages living life with Huntington’s disease either as a sufferer or a carer. So it was a pleasure to take on the role of introductory speaker at the Scottish Huntington’s Association’s recent business breakfast and to hear inspirational Andrew Hannah present his ‘I Am HD Positive’ campaign to businesses here at their headquarters next to my constituency office at St James Business Park in Linwood Road, Paisley. Andrew approached SHA a few months ago with the idea to help families and especially young people like him use a positive attitude to deal with Huntington’s on a daily basis. His campaign flips the negative connotations of being HD Positive and aims to help individuals be optimistic. It offers support to young people who will be trained to use different coping strategies in order to find a positive to even the toughest situations Andrew’s mother developed Huntington’s and as the eldest brother he took on the role of helping his father as a carer. This new caring role combined with the pressure of school and exams led to Andrew becoming depressed for a couple of years and being hospitalised at one point. The biggest turning point was receiving help and support from SHA – his father even put him in contact with Olympian rower Sarah Winckless, who is patron of SHA and carries the faulty gene which means she too will eventually get the devastating condition. Sarah knows she may already be running out of time but she has vowed to put Huntington's in the spotlight. Andrew told the meeting how his confidence grew and he became more open and optimistic so he decided with the help of Kirsten, his SHA youth counsellor, that he would test for HD and tested positive. He believes businesses can help SHA in lots of different ways including raising awareness. I couldn’t agree more.